have to cook a whole bird FOOD EXTRA My hangover cure? bread and butter
LET’S face it, who wants to stuff a turkey? Roasting the turkey and all the fuss and palaver that goes with it is surely the most stressful part of what should be the best fun day of the year.
Why do we put ourselves through it?
We haven’t cooked a turkey in our house since 1969. My older sister, then aged 14, declared she was making Christmas lunch. When she proudly started to carve the golden, crisp skin of the biggest turkey we had ever seen, she hit a problem.
After several failed attempts to cut through the skin into the flesh her error slowly dawned on us all.
Though it looked as if she had roasted the bird perfectly, she had not realised she should have defrosted it first! The middle was still rock solid. When she eventually managed to saw through the flesh, she found a plastic bag with the frozen giblets still tucked inside.
It was hilariously funny, for a few minutes, until one by one it dawned on us as our paper hats dropped onto our empty plates that we were getting no Christmas lunch.
If tackling a whole turkey is a bit of a challenge for you, try pan-roasting some turkey escallops in a shallow frying pan with some sage, Parma ham and white wine.
It makes a tasty meal and is not too rich, leaving more space for the Christmas pudding.
“Saltimbocca” means “jump in your mouth” … lip-smacking!
Ingredients 4 turkey breasts (free-range if possible)
sea salt and black pepper 8 thin slices Parma ham or smoked streaky bacon 8 fresh sage leaves 2-3 tablespoons olive oil A small blob butter ½ lemon sliced thinly 150ml dry white wine
Juice of the other half lemon
First flatten and tenderise the turkey breasts by laying them between two pieces of clingfilm and bashing them flat with a rolling pin.
Remove the clingfilm and season the turkey well.
Lay two slices of Parma ham on each breast and use toothpicks to secure two sage leaves and a slice of lemon to each one.
Warm the olive oil and butter in a heavy frying pan.
Add the turkey breasts in one layer and cook briskly, turning to brown on each side.
Add the dry white wine and raise the heat to
PRUE Leith is a legend. The mind behind the prestigious Leiths Cookery School, a novelist and Great British Bake Off judge, she’s back with her first cookbook in 25 years.
While the recipe collection, Prue: My All-time Favourite Recipes, is packed with dishes she hopes everyone will make at home, we grilled her on her own eating habits.
Your death row meal would be... Oysters and treacle tart.
The thing you still can’t make is... I’m not very good at filigree icing – I wouldn’t like to make a wedding cake. I used to make them but it took me ages. It’s so fiddly and I get bored. My husband always says my food tastes fantastic but leaves something for the presentation. Well, I think food should look wonderful because it is wonderful, not because it’s been decorated. I hate decorated food; I like food to just land on the plate and look so delicious that you want to eat it.
Your favourite store cupboard essential has to be... I couldn’t live without chopped tomatoes in tins, soy sauce, tinned chickpeas, frozen puff pastry – I sometimes make it if I’m really feeling like it and I’ve got time, but mostly I get it out the freezer – and then I have frozen spinach always, and frozen mash, which you might think absolutely disgraceful but honestly, there’s some really good frozen mash around.
If you get hungry late at night, the snack you’ll reach for is... Greek yoghurt with a bit of honey and a few almonds on top.
Your signature dish is... I should think it’s soup. I make soup out of everything all the time, soups and salads. I make staff lunch every day, so we have a lot of soup and salad.
Preferably your eggs would be... I like poached eggs and I like them soft in the middle.
If you were getting a takeaway you’d order... Probably a Persian wrap. I don’t normally like wraps - most wraps are half-cooked – but I like the Persian middle, a bit spicy, lamb, pomegranate...
The ultimate hangover cure has to be... Bread and butter – stodge.
You cannot stomach... I like nearly everything, I love haggis, for example, and I love offal. What I don’t like is badly cooked food. For example, I hate slimy porridge when it’s been sitting around and it’s slippy.
Prue: My All-time Favourite Recipes by Prue Leith is published by Bluebird, priced £25. Photography David Loftus. Available now